By now you know water is an important ingredient for life. Whether you drink it straight or use it to make other beverages, you know you need water.
The problem is making sure you’re drinking pure water, that is, water free of harmful contaminants. Whether it’s pollution from agricultural or industrial waste, or pollution stemming from urban sprawl, it all leads to contaminated water coming out of the faucets in our home. Heavy metals, antibiotics, chemicals, harmful bacteria, protozoa, viruses and intestinal parasites can all find their way into our water.
Yes, water goes through a treatment facility before it comes out of the tap, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually pure water. The Environmental Working Group did a two-and-a-half year investigation of water suppliers’ tests of the treated tap water served to communities across the country. They found that the tap water in 42 states is contaminated with more than 140 unregulated chemicals that lack safety standards. So there’s no guarantee your tap water is pure.
And don’t be fooled either by thinking if you buy bottled water, you’ve got pure water. Generally, over the years, the FDA has adopted EPA standards for tap water as standards for bottled water. As a result, standards for contaminants in tap water and bottled water are very similar. Producers of bottled water don’t even have to create a report each year detailing any contaminants found in their product as those producing tap water must do.
So if tap water and bottled water are unreliable sources of a pure product, what can you do? Take matters into your own hands, and buy a water purifier for your home.
There are all kinds of water purifiers on the market, but the most popular types are reverse osmosis, steam distillation and filtration systems. These different types remove bacteria, chemical and heavy metals with varying degrees of efficiency.
Reverse osmosis systems were originally developed to process water in submarines. The process basically draws water through an extremely fine membrane that filters out contaminants. The biggest drawback to this filtration system is that it removes all minerals, even those considered beneficial.
Steam distillation also creates very pure water and removes all the minerals. This distilled water can effect the balance of minerals in the body if that’s all you’re drinking. You don’t want contaminated water, but dissolved minerals in the water are more natural than totally purified water, and thought to serve an important function in supporting the body’s immune system and metabolism.
Carbon filters, such as those put on your faucet, will reduce organic compounds, and thereby improve the taste of water, but do not remove bacteria or all heavy metals. They are the cheapest type of filter available, but it is essential to replace the filters regularly as the longer the filter is in use, the less efficient it is, until eventually it isn’t helping at all.
Ceramic filtration systems not only reduce organic compounds, but will also remove bacteria from the water since they do not allow particles smaller than 0.2 to 0.3 microns through the system. When combined with carbon, this system is even more effective. These units do not rely on water pressure or electricity to work, but are usually countertop units that must be refilled with water as it is used.
The top ceramic filtrations systems on the market today are Doulton, Berkey, and British Berkefeld units. If you don’t mind a system that looks a lot like the silver iced tea containers seen in restaurants sitting on your counter, there are advantages to these ceramic filters. They do a better job by far than carbon filtration alone, and although the units are initially more expensive, going for $150 and up depending on the size, the filter cartridges last a long time as they can be cleaned many times before needing replacement. The downside is the unit must be refilled when the water is used up, and if you forget, it takes quite a while before you have filtered water available again.
If you prefer, there are also ceramic filtration units made to fit under the sink and attach to the cold water line. These generally remove the bacteria, chemicals and heavy metals, while leaving behind other minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium that are healthful minerals. It takes a little plumbing skill to install one, and crawling under your sink to change filter cartridges, but gives you a constant supply of filtered water.
Bottom line, to improve the quality of water you’re drinking, try the filter of your choice. Any filter you choose should improve the quality of your drinking water!